A few weeks ago, someone I know contacted me and said they received a message when visiting a site. It said their computer was infected and to call Microsoft. This was a common scam where less savory internet elements buy ad space on sites to con the unwary into calling or downloading malware.
This is an easily alleviated problem. Just install an ad block extension to the browser. They block a common vector of viruses, scams, and malware that often piggy back on malicious ads. This happened to me a about 5 years ago when an ad on Dillert.com downloaded malware to my machine. Fortunately, the hackers only wanted the gold in my World of Warcraft account. Ever since, all of my browsers had ad blockers.
Ad blockers also have another use. They make the web a cleaner, less flashy place. No more loud blinking ads. No more ads breaking up content. Below are the versions I normally use and install on people’s machines to improve their browsing experience.
For Mozilla compatible clients, uBlock Origin seems to be the one of the better ad-blocker extensions. As my main browser, I have tried at least a dozen of them and found it to be a little lighter on my machines. It also plays well with the other add-on installed in the browser such as NoScript, Disconnect, and EFF’s Privacy Badger. I also feel it is a good one for people who have little knowledge of how browsers work.
The only issue is that a few sites like Forbes will block access to their site, but most ad laden sites don’t have much in the way of original content so there is no real loss.
I use Chrome at work over Internet Explorer because users can install plug-ins without administrative rights. Again, uBlock Origin is the one of choice. Given the closed nature of Chrome, it runs a bit rougher than on Firefox but most users will not notice it.
Being hard to code for and growing obsolete, there are few addons for IE 11. When I reluctantly need to use IE, I use Adblock Plus (ABP.) It works fine but is slower because IE is just pain to use compared to faster and newer browsers.
Also, I don’t really endorse ABP. The company who writes the software acts in a scummy way. Advertisers can pay to have ‘acceptable’ ads show through. However, there are few decent alternatives.
Edge in Microsoft’s new browser that is available on Windows 10. Despite the hate, it is actually a decent browser. It was recently made better when Microsoft started to allow extensions. Like IE 11, I don’t use it much because it doesn’t have the extension pool I need yet, but when I have to surf on it, I use AdBlock. I choose it because it was the most downloaded extension not out of any well founded research. Overall, I don’t have many complaints except that it sometimes causes odd style sheet changes to web sites where uBlock Origin doesn’t on other browsers.
I have no idea what is good since I don’t use Macs. Fortunately, Apple recently updated the browser to allow ad blocker. Quara users have a decent list to try with some being on my own list. Remember that Safari isn’t the only browser available. Installing the extensions above in Firefox or Chrome will work just as well.